Tensions flare between parties in lead up to Nov. 8
Published 7:10 pm, Friday, November 4, 2016
FAIRFIELD — If it’s election season, there must be election complaints.
The head of the Democratic Party in town has filed a complaint with the State Election Enforcement Commission regarding state Sen. Tony Hwang’s re-election campaign, while Republican Registrar of Voters Roger Autuori has filed a complaint against his Democratic counterpart, claiming Matthew Waggner used “extortion” to get agreement on an Election Day registration site.
Steve Sheinberg, head of the DTC, forwarded his complaint on Oct. 19, and alleges “Tony Hwang for CT,” an exploratory committee, has made expenditures on behalf of “Hwang4Senate,” his senate campaign committee. Sheinberg said this violates state statutes, which prohibit contributions, loans or expenditures to, or for the benefit of, another candidate, political committee or party committee.
In particular, Sheinberg questions who paid for the candidate’s web domain, and a $305 expense for embroidered shirts and caps paid for by Tony Hwang for CT, but not Hwang4Senate.
“Hwang’s usage of embroidered campaign materials should not be allowed during his state Senate campaigning, as the state Senate campaign did not make any reported expenditure of any embroidered materials,” Sheinberg’s complaint states.
Hwang had to reimburse the Citizens’ Election Fund $300 after a complaint filed by Heather Dean, then the head of the DTC, over his use of embroidered campaign clothing and a golf course tee sign. The $300 expense for a tee sign at Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course was not reported as a campaign expense.
According to Hwang, he purchased his campaign web domain. “It was purchased with my personal credit card,” Hwang said in his response to the SEEC. “With regard to the issue of which committee paid for the site, it has been my intention to seek reimbursement for the Senate campaign committee, but an oversight to do so in a timely manner.”
He said he has since submitted an invoice and will seek reimbursement.
As for the clothing, Hwang said he maintains the clothes are part of of his personal wardrobe, and were purchased at no expense to the campaign. The clothing was then embroidered with the campaign logo, at the campaign’s expense.
Hwang called the complaints “dubious” and a deliberate misrepresentation of facts. “Frivolous complaints like these are a waste of limited resources for elections enforcement,” Hwang said.
In the registrars’ office, Autuori, in an email regarding the conclusion to a flap over the Election Day registration location, wrote: “The following was sent tonight to SOTS Election Director Peggy Reeves and hopefully ends another sad chapter of Mr. Matthew R. Waggner’s participation in the Fairfield Registrars’ office. A complaint by me against Mr. Waggner related to this matter was filed with the State Election Enforcement Commission on October 6 and is still active.”
An agreement between Autuori and Waggner — to hold EDR at the Fairfield University and count absentee ballots at a central location — appeared to fall apart weeks before Election Day, and just days before the Secretary of the State’s office was set to publish a list of all EDR locations in the state.
After the registrars missed a deadline, they were threatened with court action. Ultimately, they came to an agreement last week that left the EDR at Fairfield University.
Autori said his complaint is based on Waggner’s “pressure on me to have a polling place at Fairfield University and using the counting of absentees as a carrot or a stick. The usual basic extortion.”
On Sept. 22, 2015, Autuori, in an email to Waggner, wrote, “I would agree to have EDR at the university next year, but I would also want (absentee ballots) to be centrally counted for next year too.”
Waggner responded, “It’s a deal.”